Bard News & Events

Press Release

"Religions and Politics" Topic of Fall Luncheon Lectures with Bruce Chilton

Five Friday Meetings, October 5 to November 2, Presented by the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Institute of Advanced Theology (IAT) at Bard College presents five lecture discussions on the topic “Religions and Politics,” with The Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, on Fridays, October 5, through November 2. The lecture discussions are preceded by a luncheon (except for October 26) at noon in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center. The cost for the luncheon is $14; $12 for IAT members. There is no charge for attendance at the lecture discussions that begin at 12:30. All meetings are held in the multipurpose room of the Campus Center, except for the Friday, October 26, meeting which will be held in Bard’s Chapel of the Holy Innocents. Preregistration for the luncheons is requested; call 845-758-7279 or e-mail


“With the close of the Cold War, a confrontation that took on some traits of a religious struggle between the Soviet and American empires, President George H. W. Bush announced a ‘new world order,’ and Francis Fukuyama predicted ‘the end of history.’ Events have disappointed belief in those and other forecasts. Instead, the underlying role of religion in shaping behavior, which had been obscured by the polarity of the ‘Superpowers,’ has become increasingly evident, and in some cases troubling,” states Chilton. “This series investigates how the global religions shape ideals, policies, and strategies of governance out of their classic resources.”


“The purpose of the investigation is neither to accuse any particular religion of fomenting autocratic, violent behavior, nor to demonize religious belief as a whole. Rather, the lens of our principal discussion will be the capacity of religions to shape human actions, emotions, and ideologies, and in turn to be influenced by them,” Chilton explains. “We will turn that lens both on classical sources and current events.”

Bruce Chilton (Ph.D. from Cambridge, 1976) is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism. He wrote the first critical commentary on the Aramaic version of Isaiah (The Isaiah Targum, 1987), as well as academic studies that analyze Jesus in his Judaic context (A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible, 1984; The Temple of Jesus, 1992; Pure Kingdom, 1996). He has taught in Europe at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Münster, and in the United States at Yale University (as the first Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament) and Bard College. Currently Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Bard, he also directs the College’s Institute of Advanced Theology. Throughout his career, he has been active in the pastoral ministry of the Anglican Church, and is rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown, New York. His most recent books are Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2000), Redeeming Time: The Wisdom of Ancient Jewish and Christian Festal Calendars (2002), Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography (2004), Mary Magdalene: A Biography (2005), and, as general editor, The Cambridge Companion to the Bible (2007).


The Institute of Advanced Theology was established to foster the kind of critical understanding, based on scholarship, that would make true religious pluralism possible. Since its inception in 1996, the Institute’s work has focused on how religions influence history, society, and other religions, and are in turn influenced by them. The Institute gratefully acknowledges support from members of the Institute, the Crohn Family Trust, and Tisch Family Foundation, as well as grants from The Levy Economics Institute and Bard College.


For further information or to register for the series, call the Institute office at 845-758-7279, e-mail, or visit the website


# # #


Click on thumbnail images below, to download high-resolution (300 dpi jpeg) press photos.

back to top

This event was last updated on 10-31-2007